Election Day: What to know before heading to cast your vote

Tuesday, November 7, 2023
Election Day: What to know before heading to the polls
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Election Day in North Carolina is Tuesday and there are a bevy of races across the state and important information that state election officials are encouraging voters to b

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Election Day in North Carolina is Tuesday and there are a bevy of races across the state and important information that state election officials are encouraging voters to be aware of.

For starters, this year's elections and those moving forward will require voters to present photo identification to cast their ballot.

If a voter does not have an ID, they will be asked to fill out a provisional ballot stating why they were unable to produce picture identification.

A list of appropriate identification can be found here.

Additionally, polls will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

State law allows anyone in line at 7:30 p.m. to still be able to cast their vote.

"We're ready for 100% turnout," said North Carolina State Board of Elections executive director Karen Brinson Bell. "But in our municipal elections, we don't often see a strong turnout. And that's tough. A lot of folks need to remember that the local elections really impact their day-to-day life more than when we see these big turnouts in the presidential elections."

Bell said voters in municipal elections decide on candidates who will ultimately decide how many firefighters a municipality will have, and weigh in on zoning issues and law enforcement.

"Things that affect our everyday life. Those are the people being elected tomorrow," she said.

Among the area's top races are the battles for Durham mayor and the Cary Town Council District D seat.

City councilman Leo Williams or state Sen. Mike Woodard will be Durham's new mayor.

In the Bull City, state Sen. Mike Woodard is facing off against current councilmember Leonardo "Leo" Williams, who won 51% of the vote in October's primary election.

Woodard was the runner-up in that contest with 29% of the vote.

ABC11 caught up with both candidates hours before Election Day.

"All I can do is be optimistic. I've put everything out on the field," said Williams.

"I'm looking forward to talking with voters tomorrow, those who still haven't made up their minds or are just coming up to vote tomorrow," said Woodard.

Woodard served on the city council for almost eight years before his current role. He says his priorities are public safety and affordable housing.

"With affordable housing, we need to not only address some of the needs of our lower wealth citizens, and we made a good start there, but we need to accelerate that and also begin to address workforce housing for our middle-income residents as well," Woodard said.

He said addressing public safety means getting the Durham Police Department fully staffed.

"We need to start working on filling those 160 vacancies that we have in the police department and give our law all of our law enforcement the tools they need to respond expanding the Heart program, and other things that help us be a more effective, more effective law enforcement."

Williams, who is an entrepreneur, former teacher, and currently the Ward 3 City Councilor said voters are looking for something new.

"People are hungry. They're hungry for, you know, just functionality. I think that was the biggest thing. Crime, affordable housing, transportation, and all those policy points, and issues in our community are present," Williams said. "But for the most part, what folks really are looking for is can we have an embracing culture."

The councilor said Durham is not doom and gloom. Williams said addressing crime starts with providing young people with opportunities.

"I believe you put W2s in these young folks' hands, you're going to have zero recidivism, you're going to have less crime, you're going to have more people making more money, which creates more of an affordable living environment," he said.

Both men entered a crowded field of candidates after Mayor Elaine O'Neal announced she would not seek re-election.

When it was time to find her replacement, voter turnout was low last month. According to the State Board of Elections, just 11% of registered voters showed up.

"We've got to get the numbers up in Durham because the rest of the state is relying on us," said Williams.

Woodard added: "This is a critical time for our city, and I believe the mayor we need is one who has the experience, knowledge and skill set to lead the council, our administration, indeed, our whole community."

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For Cary Town Council, primary election runner-up Rachel Jordan has challenged her opponent, Sarika Bansal, to a runoff election. In October, Bansal won the election by having the most votes. However, she was shy of the required votes needed to secure the seat outright.

Voters in Cary's District D will again decide Tuesday in the runoff.

"Unfortunately we see low voter turnout in municipal elections in general," said Brinson Bell. "But it's not particularly low this year compared to previous years. It's just what we see. It is interesting though that typically the municipal voter is more civically engaged. So they are more familiar with what's going on in local government than what we see with all the millions of dollars spent around state and federal elections when we have presidential years, for example."

In all, voters in 465 municipalities across 86 counties will cast ballots on Tuesday.

The State Board of Elections offers several helpful tips for municipal election voters:

  • Voters must go to their assigned Election Day polling place. Find your polling place through the State Board's Voter Search tool.
  • Voters will be asked to show photo ID when checking in at their polling place. Most voters will simply show their driver's license, but there are many other acceptable photo IDs. For more information, including the full list of acceptable IDs, visit Voter ID. If a voter cannot show a photo ID, they can still vote by filling out an ID Exception Form and voting a provisional ballot.

  • As required by state law, every N.C. voter will cast a hand-marked paper ballot or use a touch-screen ballot-marking device that produces a paper ballot for the voter to verify before casting. All voters will insert their ballot into a tabulator that has been tested before the election. To find which voting equipment is used in your county, read Voting Equipment.
  • North Carolina residents may not register to vote on Election Day unless they become eligible after the regular voter registration deadline by becoming a U.S. citizen or having their rights restored following a felony conviction.
  • Voters who need assistance at the polls must request that assistance. Curbside voting is available for voters who are unable to enter the voting place without assistance because of age or disability. Once inside the polling place, voters who experience difficulties should request help from an election worker.
  • If you present to vote and your name is not on the voter list, you may request a provisional ballot. About a week after the election, voters who cast a provisional ballot can check the status of their ballot with the Provisional Search tool.
  • State and federal laws forbid intimidation or interference with voters, including hindering access to the voting place, whether inside or outside the buffer zone. The law also makes it a crime to interfere with election officials carrying out their duties. Penalties for violations include prison time, a fine, or both. The State Board takes these incidents very seriously. When they occur, we will work with our law enforcement partners on appropriate responses. Voters who are harassed or intimidated should notify an election official immediately.